BY TOM BUSSELBERG
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sometimes what seems impossible turns into the possible.
Such is the case with Rep. Chris Stewart’s appointment to the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
The freshman representative, who has been in office just under a year, was appointed to serve on that panel in December.
“It’s very difficult for someone in their freshman term to be appointed,” he said from the nation’’s capital, adding that “Leadership approached me about four weeks ago,” after a member passed away.
“It’s power derives mostly from the constitution that talks about Congress having the power to appropriate funds,” Stewart said.
To some members of Congress, it means potentially having influence to obtain earmarks, or funding, for projects within their districts, he said.
“My view is quite the opposite,” Stewart, who represents Davis County south of Kaysville, said. “The reason I ran for Congress was that I felt like we’re committing national suicide with our debt and spending.
“I’d hope to use my influence, along with other conservatives, to maintain the fiscal discipline that is going to be absolutely essential,” he said.
The committee is divided into 12 sub-committees, and there is an identical version of the panel in the Senate, Stewart explained.
“It’s the only place in Congress where the Senate and House mirror each other. It’s to streamline, make the process more efficient through the House and then to the Senate,” he said.
Stewart, who has a business background and also is the author of several top-selling books, said he believes his background could've helped in his being approached to serve.
“But I think more than that, when I've come to Congress, I've tried to be pragmatic in how I've approached this,” the Farmington resident said.
He said he’s driven by a few things, with a primary concern that of creating financial stability and “...bringing back some sanity to our spending. If we can take a little step forward, move the ball a little bit, I’m willing to do that. That’s the approach that works,” Stewart said. “You can’t be a rabble rouser and blow things up.”
He’s hoping for appointments to subcommittees dealing with Defense, The Interior, the EPA, and financial services - all very important in his 2nd Congressional District.
“Utah demographically is about the 30th largest (most populous) state. But Salt Lake City is the seventh or eighth largest in the country for financial services,” Stewart said.
Subcommittee appointments probably won’t be made until after Christmas, meaning lobbying will continue until then, he said.
He and his five colleagues in Utah’s Congressional delegation voted for the bipartisan budget act.
“For the first time, those people working up at Hill (AFB) won’t have to worry about furloughs,” Stewart said.
“With sequestration, every penny (cut) fell upon the Department of Defense. Other departments had really meaningful budget increases. We were able to alleviate, at least, some of those pressures on our military folks,” he added.